HERstory: A shift of perspectives and personas through artistic expression

Art 180’s newest exhibit explores what it’s like to be a Black female artist, courtesy of the artistic endeavors of VCU’s Black Art Student Empowerment organization.

“HERstory: A Woman’s Worth,” the newest exhibition at ART 180‘s ATLAS gallery, is a body of work created by members of B.A.S.E. (Black Art Student Empowerment), a pro-Black support group at VCU.

The exhibit will feature the work of seven individual artists and members of B.A.S.E. Student artist Danielle Johnson says it best in her artist statement: “Because we [Black female artists] are so often forgotten and cast away, it was important to me to create something that would honor us and make us feel important while also bringing a piece of our heritage into play.” There is a common shared thread between the B.A.S.E. members–Black empowerment as a catalyst for art.


In excited anticipation of the exhibition, I sat down with Angelique (Angie) Scott, a junior at VCUarts and the president of B.A.S.E., to ask her a few questions about the upcoming exhibition, who she is, and what she hopes to do.

Angelique Scott: One thing that I really want to do when I’m all grown up and become a professional artist is develop fine arts programs at historically Black colleges and universities for students growing up like me–who wanted to go to a historically black college or university but couldn’t because of the lack of ceramics programs.

Chris Bolling: How long have you been doing ceramics?

AS: I started hand building in eighth grade, and I started throwing the wheel in ninth grade in high school. So altogether I have been doing ceramics for seven years.

CB: What interests you the most about working with ceramics? Is it just being able to work with your hands, or is it working with new materials. What draws you to it?

AS: It’s more so working with my hands. I’m a really hands-on and tactile person, and it’s just a different way of creating. You kind of become one with your piece in a different way, as painting would be, and it just clicked with me. I’ve tried painting, I’ve tried drawing, I’ve tried graphic. But [ceramics] just loved me as much as I loved it.

Not only is B.A.S.E a black empowerment group, but they are also a socially conscious group as well.

CB: Did the #BlackLivesMatter movement help to inspire you to do more Afrocentric art, or has it always been of interest to do Afrocentric, Black-centered, Black empowerment art?

AS: I’ve always done it. But before it was more subconscious, like I didn’t realize what it was that I was doing. I was just doing it because it made me happy and it felt right. And so when I started at VCU, and I [felt like] the only Black person in an all-White space; race became very apparent and so my outlet just served as my work. I’ve never made work about race so much until I went to VCU. So…not just Black Lives Matter but feminism and Black feminism and the natural hair movement and all that is going on has had a big influence on my work.

CB: What effect do you want your artwork to have on the people in the space?

“[I hope] people start learning about not only Black artists, but Black women artists–so much so that it inspires little Black girls to become artists.”

AS: Conversation starters. I like to think of my work as an entryway for those uncomfortable conversations and to be in a safe space, to feel comfortable being uncomfortable talking about it.

CB: Where do you see the conversation leading in the future about race and about class and being a woman, and being Black.

AS: I hope they have more of them in the future. It’s being talked about, but it’s not being talked about as much as Picasso is being talked about…Probably the biggest thing is that [I hope] people start learning about not only Black artists, but Black women artists–so much so, that it inspires little black girls to become artists. You know, recently there’s a stigma about being an artist, especially in the Black community…but I hope to change that.

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You can see the opening reception for “HERstory: A Woman’s Worth” at Art 180’s ATLAS gallery, 114 W. Marshall Street, with a reception and artist talk on March 18th, 5:30-7:30 PM. The exhibition will be up through March 24th. Visit Art 180 online for more information about their programs.

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Chris Bolling

Air breather, food eater, coffee drinker. And the newest intern at RVANews.

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